Catching Up

Since my blog posting has been sporadic over the past year I thought I would do a brief update and catch everyone up on what has been going on here @ home.  I did post more regularly on my Instagram and my Facebook page, I hope you’ll check them out.

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My husband’s cousin and her children.

Last year was really busy with all sorts of things: family, health, home, schooling etc. We had several family members going through various trials, one of the biggest was the loss of hubby’s cousin to ovarian cancer. Such a beautiful woman lost too early to a cancer that there isn’t much awareness for. She had been going to doctors for a year trying to find out what was going on before she was diagnosed. We are heartbroken, continuing to pray for her children and family as they learn to live without her. My own health has been an issue over the past year, mainly my asthma. I have had asthma since I was a young child and this past fall was probably the worst it’s ever been, and making some drastic dietary and supplement changes have helped dramatically. The main change for me was getting serious about eliminating dairy. We have also worked on filtering the air better to help keep the dust down.

Our home has so many projects going on, but when money is tight you have to be selective on what gets done and what gets put off. We still don’t have a working dryer but we took advantage of the mild winter we had used the clothes line when we could. Those times where we couldn’t we could haul laundry to the local laundromat. I don’t mind hanging the clothes up, but the challenge was trying not to trigger an asthma attack while doing it. This summer we are hoping to get some painting done, replace several windows and our doorwall, get our rain barrels going again, and more. We’ll see how the budget shakes out as to how far we get.

Our internet was cut. This was a HUGE adjustment. I didn’t realize how dependent I was on it and that made me uncomfortable. While I do want to be connected, I don’t want to be dependent. I’m not able to keep up with blogs and channels as much as I used to, but I am now spending more time reading real books. Cutting the internet and land line was a big help to our budget. Having the cell phones with limited data has been great overall and I’m not really sure if we’ll go back to having internet.

Noah

Homeschool Senior

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Class of 2017

Homeschooling has been bitter sweet. This is our last year of homeschooling. Our son will graduate shortly. This past year has been full of wrapping up one journey and preparing for another. It’s hard for me to believe that I did it…I homeschooled him from kindergarten right through to graduation. He’s looking forward to pursuing a career in Information Security and I’m excited to see him spread his wings. Bitter sweet. Mama loves her baby.

weedsWe had so much going on last year we never got around to getting the garden started, so we left it fallow. This year it is overgrown and needs a good taming. While we are a little behind in getting that part done, all the raised beds are planted and growing. Not everything is heirloom this year, but I am looking forward to growing, harvesting and preserving what we do grow.

Our Daisy dog is now a year old. What a challenge and a joy she has been. She is such a sweet dog, but she is just full of energy it is hard to keep up. daisyTennis balls are her absolute favorite toy and she loves to have you throw them for her. She still chases the chickens once in a while, but she is learning. Pepper dog is quite protective of them and Daisy is slowly learning from her. Unlike Pepper, we haven’t done a good job of socializing Daisy with people and we do have to work on that. I’m happy to accept any tips for that.

The pantry. Pretty empty. We did stock with some store bought food, but we miss our home canned food. My first canning of the year was some pork we got on sale. I’m hoping to get things like beans done now before things get busy and the weather gets warm.

beadsMy Etsy shop has been opened about a year now and it is nice to have an opportunity to share my hobby with others. I really enjoy doing craft shows and art fairs, but they are a lot of work and take a lot of time. While I miss meeting the people at the shows, it has been fun to send my work off to people far away…even as far as Australia.

Hope you enjoyed this highlight. I’m off to get laundry going. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to. Feel free to comment and let me know, or share a link to a blog post.

Until next time, grace and peace!

Farmer’s Markets

I have always had a love for farmer’s markets since I moved into my first apartment. It was a small studio apartment that was directly across the street from the city’s farmer’s market. Not only could I see and hear the weekend busyness of this big city market from my main street windows, but all I had to do was walk yards across the street to experience it. This city girl was hooked.

Now I’m living out in farm country and I’m thinking about selling at a farmer’s market. We have small farmer’s market here locally which has a nice mix of local farmers, Amish and a few artisans. I have always thought it was interesting that in a rural area such as ours farmer’s markets are so small. The average I’ve seen at the handful of markets around us is about 15-ish local sellers and their produce selections are usually small. I think part of the reason for this may be the local flea market (which is huge but only open during the week), but even the produce sellers there are very few compared to the artisans and antiques. I think another may be local tourist markets that sell produce that is sold farm stand style but with commercial produce.

Despite that, the small local farmer’s markets do get a good bit of local traffic. I have been considering whether to join for the past year and I think I am going to do it. I plan on selling mostly greens such as lettuces and spinach, and doing some bread baking. These are two areas that I enjoy and that I don’t see a lot of people there selling. The Amish that do offer baked goods sell mostly cookies and pies. I also may take some of my crochet items like dish cloths and market bags.

I have researched our state laws and the cottage laws and I am comfortable with my plans. The farmer’s market I’m planning to join has a very reasonable yearly fee and runs two days each week. While I hope this venture will be financially profitable, I hope even more to connect with people and promote buying local.

Do you shop farmers markets? What brings you back? Are you a seller at farmers markets? What do you sell and what do you enjoy about it? I’d love to hear from you! You can answer in the comments below or post a link to a post you’ve written about it.

Until next time – live simply and love abundantly!

Ann’Re

Garden 2017

Gardening season is officially under way here @home.  Wheeee!

2017gardenweedsLast year we weren’t able to get a garden going and we left it fallow for the season. That was hard. It was the first time in many, many years I haven’t had a garden. The result from letting it go is that the garden plot is now very weedy and turning it over by hand is not going very well. We are planning to rent a big tiller this week and get it tilled.  Son is going to whack all the weeds before we till.

2017gardenraisedbedsIn the mean time, the four raised beds are planted and growing. Compost from last year was added as well as local compost to fill the beds.  I didn’t start any plants this year so I purchased tomatoes, cauliflower and onions.  Not heirloom this year but we’ll work on that for next year.  Radishes, broccoli and peas were started by our own saved seed.  Everything is doing well except the broccoli which I think is a bust.  The first bed has broccoli (well, supposed to have broccoli) and peas.  The one behind it has cauliflower and radishes.  The bed next to it has tomatoes and onions.

2017gardenlettuceThe raised bed near the house (dubbed the kitchen garden) has lettuce, garlic, spinach and carrots.  The early spinach planting is pretty much done and bolted and has been reseeded already.

The herb garden is sparse this year.  My lavender, yarrow and savory didn’t make it through the winter so I will need to plant new.  I’m not sure why because our winter was actually fairly mild as a whole.  Chives are going 2017gardenchivesfull blast and drawing many bees.  Hubby loves having them in salads.  We had a nice small harvest of asparagus this year and we are hoping for a bigger one next year.

Lastly, the strawberries are looking great. This bed is badly in need of a good weeding, but the strawberries don’t seem to mind. I’ll need to cover these with bird netting because the local birds (as well as our own chickens) will gobble them up once they start ripening.

2017gardenstrawberriesJust a small update for now.  I’d love to hear about your garden this year whether it is a big farm garden or a small patio container garden.  You can leave a comment or link to your own blog post.

Until next time…live simply and love abundantly!

Ann’Re

Prepper? Homesteader? Survivalist? Other?

Other.  Really.  Well, for me anyway.

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Making slippers for Christmas gifts.

I’ve always been on the frugal side.  Sometimes more frugal, sometimes less.  Much of what I’ve done is just what I had learned growing up.  I’ve also always been interested in the outdoors, gardening, camping, hiking, farming etc.  Growing up in the city didn’t give me many opportunities for farming, but I really enjoyed any chance to be outside with nature and camping/hiking became one of my favorite activities.

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Celebrating my birthday with my great-grandmother…a homemade cake and homemade party hats.

I heartily understand the philosophy behind prepping and I agree with most of it.  I don’t feel like I need to live barricaded in militarized zone with 30 years of food and supplies put up in my hidden armored bunker.  If you do, that’s fine.  I do feel that as the manager of my home I need to be as prepared as possible to care for my family in what ever situation comes our way.  We live in crazy, fragile times.  But I firmly believe that the extreme form of prepping goes against what the Bible teaches.  The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, to take care of the orphans and widows, feed the hungry, visit prisoners.  It doesn’t say only do these things when times are good and stop when “stuff” hits the fan.  I will do my best for my family, but together we serve God first.

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Canning grape jam.

I would love to be a homesteader.  Living off the land is hard, hard work, but can be so rewarding.  We live in town on a small lot, and while I do a lot of things that homesteaders do, I wouldn’t classify myself as a real homesteader.  But again, a lot of these things I do I learned growing up.  For example: I learned gardening…organic gardening…from my grandfather.  In the big city.  I learned to make things by hand from my mother and great-grandmother.   I learned to be frugal from my grandmother…like using old clothing (read: underwear) to mop the floors and putting left over bread that is starting to stale in the freezer to use in the future for stuffing.  When I moved out on my own, I appreciated the farmers market that was right across the street, and I found out first hand how practical being frugal was.

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The garden goes all the way to the wood fence.

All these things became very real for our family when my husband lost his job a while back.  This area of Indiana suffered a great blow with many automotive, trailer and RV manufacturers laying people off or closing.  Hubby’s company closed and sent the work elsewhere.  Not being burdened by lots of debt and having a well stocked pantry got us through the hard times when many others were going under.  Not only were we able to keep our heads above water, but we didn’t have to rely on any assistance, food or utility programs.  And even then, we were able to help out others when they needed it.  I’m not saying it didn’t hit us hard because it did.  Only now are we starting to get caught up on things that we had to put off during that time (like getting our roof fixed, buying a stove with a working oven, getting a “new” running vehicle after both of ours broke down.)  But being frugal, prepared and doing as much with our land as we could, we made it through when many others didn’t.

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Curing onions in the garage.

So I guess you can classify me under what ever category you would like.  I’m not prepping for any zombie apocalypse, but for real life circumstances for my family and those around me.  I’m not living on an off grid homestead with livestock, but we are trying to live more sustainable where we are.  If you asked me what I would call it…I would call it living Proverbs 31.  Regardless of what circumstances arise, my main responsibility is to God first, then my family and my home, and then helping others as I can.

Matthew 25:34-40 – Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Raising Your Meat – Frugal or Cheap?

DSCF0326Having a sustainable homestead with animals has always been one of my dreams.  But there is nothing stopping us or anyone else with a dream like that from learning and practicing practical, frugal and sustainable homestead living right now where we are.  Think of all the skills we’ll have when that dream is fulfilled one day.

It seems to me, though, that a lot of people have such a romanticized vision of what farming or homesteading is that they are actually unprepared or disillusioned when they actually try to do it.  It is a long term way of life and the results are not instant.  There is a lot to learn and it is a lot of work. And while you skip a day in the garden, there is no slacking, time off, snow days or sick days when it comes to the well being of your animals who depend on you. The blog Walking In High Cotton has a good post about “Is Raising Your Own Meat Really Frugal?

While it is a good and very needed post, I think I would answer a little differently.  Yes, it can be very frugal. It isn’t cheap.

DSCF0063One thing that I have learned from trial and error is that there is a big difference between cheap and frugal.  Farming, homesteading, or sustainable living is not cheap at all.  But it can be frugal.  Living cheap is all about the short term, squeezing the life out of every penny regardless of who or what it might effect.  Living frugally is thinking long term, being careful with spending, even if it means spending a bit more to get better, lasting quality.  Living cheap expects instant benefits, living frugal plans for the long term rewards.  Living cheap is easy, living frugal (farming or not) is work.

It certainly can be frugal raising your own animals for meat if you are willing to put the work into it. If you are looking to do it because you want cheap, it certainly isn’t for you.